Home Remedies for Reoccuring Shoulder Pain

by Christina Lasich, MD Health Professional

People big and small, young and old experience shoulder pain; old injuries haunt, old age nags, and life with a bum shoulder is not fun. It seems like more people experience shoulder pain now that everyone is using laptops, tablets, and smartphones. All the tasks done with these devices bring our shoulders forward and spread our shoulder blades apart for hours on end. The abnormal postures of today's sedentary work and pleasure world put shoulders at higher risk for painful problems.

Once a shoulder starts hurting, it is hard to make the pain stop. Here are some hints to help you break that miserable cycle of shoulder pain.

  1. Stretch Your Pec's: The pectoralis muscles lie underneath your breasts and tend to tighten as you get older. Stretching them out helps to realign the shoulders into a more natural position. The shoulders should rest behind your chest bone instead of in front of it. Keep your chest out, shoulders back; does that sound familiar? Well it should, because that is a good posture that will help your shoulders.

  2. Strengthen Your Rhomboids: Those muscles between your shoulder blades are called your rhomboids and are essential for normal shoulder movements. Strong rhomboid muscles help to hold your shoulders back, help to support the weight of your arm, and give you the ability to reach, push and pull. Weak rhomboids quickly lead to shoulder pain. Rowing exercises are perfect to tone them up.

  3. Use Ice: A majority of shoulder pain is caused by inflamed tendons called the rotator cuff. Ice is a natural remedy for inflammation. Icing your shoulder is best done with your hand behind your back. By placing your hand behind your back, the tendons of the rotator cuff come out from hiding underneath the shoulder bone called the scapula.

  4. Keep Your Elbow by your Side: When you are experiencing shoulder pain, it is best to keep your elbow at your side in order to give your shoulder a break. Sometimes, using an arm sling or arm rests can be very helpful early on in the healing stages; but not for too long, otherwise you'll risk having a frozen shoulder.

  5. Anti-Inflammatory Medications: If you are able to stomach medications like ibuprofen, then using it daily for a couple weeks can assist in stopping shoulder pain. If you do experience some stomach discomfort, try using ibuprofen with OTC Prilosec.

  6. Mind Your Neck: Sometimes shoulder pain is a result of neck problems. The neck and shoulders are closely linked and influence each other. Try some gentle neck stretches that you can find in the book called "Treat you Own Neck Pain". But if the pain persists, then you are likely going to need the help of a professional to treat the problem.

  7. Use a Thicker Pillow: Many people sleep on their sides. If a pillow is too thin, then the neck and shoulder are poorly supported when sleeping on your side. A good, thick, supportive pillow can make a huge difference when trying to solve shoulder pain.

Christina Lasich, MD
Meet Our Writer
Christina Lasich, MD

Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.